February 2nd, 2023

2020 Big Foot Memorial Ride comes to an end

The 2020 Big Foot Memorial/Si Tanka Wokiksuye Ride departed Bridger, SD, on December 23. 

They arrived at Four Corners in Cottonwood, SD, between Philip and Wall, on the evening of December 23. The next morning approximately 45 riders headed for the Badlands Overpass south of Wall.

Once through the overpass, the riders spent the night and departed toward Little Wound/Kyle, SD, on the morning of December 25, Christmas Day. They passed through remote and stunning scenery on a bitterly cold day. The riders took a rest day in Little Wound/Kyle on Saturday, December 26.

December 27 held a shorter ride from Little Wound to Red Owl Springs, SD. The wind was freezing! The Ride came into the Wounded Knee Massacre site around 2:15 pm MT on Monday, December 28. They will ride onto Pine Ridge on December 29 and end the ride in Oglala, SD.

The ride, in its 30th year, commemorates the murder of an unknown number of Lakota (between 150 and 300 people) by the United States on December 29, 1890. The victims included many Miniconjou and Hunkpapa Lakota from Standing Rock and Cheyenne River families who were fleeing to safety on the Pine Ridge Agency. The group was led by Spotted Elk/Uŋpȟáŋ Glešká, also known as Big Foot, a Miniconjou leader.

Pervasive Sadness

Cheyenne River elder and US veteran, Marcella LeBeau/Wigmuke Waste Win (Pretty Rainbow Woman), has commented more than once that a “pervasive sadness” exists on Cheyenne River due to the unresolved grief from Wounded Knee. LeBeau has made the comment in many public forums, most recently at the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in 2019 and in a public letter regarding COVID-19 and its impact on Native Americans in May, 2020.

“In my opinion, a pervasive sadness exists on the Cheyenne River Reservation, the home of many descendants of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890. There has never been closure to the sad and horrible massacre where innocent, unarmed men, women, and children were massacred under a white flag of truce.”

LeBeau made the same comment in private to the West River Eagle in December 2020. 

Remove the Stain Act Advocacy

Twenty members of the 7th Cavalry were subsequently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions at Wounded Knee. Since June 2019 there has been a movement to strip away the honor. The bi-partisan “Remove the Stain Act” was introduced in the House of Representatives by Denny Heck (D–WA), Deb Haaland (D–NM), and Paul Cook (R–CA), and in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

The Act is supported personally by Ms. LeBeau and leaders of 1890 Hawk, a group who represent descendants of survivors of Wounded Knee. In 2019 Manny Iron Hawk, the group’s spokesperson, spoke at the introduction of the Act along with LeBeau, saying “Our ancestors are here today. We are not alone.”

It is also supported by the National Congress of American Indians, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, the Coalition of Large Tribes, United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund, Heartbeat At Wounded Knee 1890, the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre Descendants Society, Four Directions, the Native Organizers Alliance, VoteVets, Common Defense, Veterans for Peace, Veteran Service Corps, Veterans for American Ideals, and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

2020 Big Foot Memorial Ride comes to an end